David Janik-Jones
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Without writing a review per-se (although that may be coming) this is what I've written about Jim Krohn's brilliant effort ... in summary, it's replaced Combat Commander as my go-to tactical game and falls only short of the classic Up Front for making me happy when I play a tactical WW2 game.

Later edit ... I've updated my rating to 9.9 with the following updated text ...

----------------

Preface: I've been playing wargames since the mid 1970s and tactical WW2 is my absolute favourite scale and era. I've played almost every system out there so here's what I think about the newest kid on the block ...

A superb, fast playing, innovative and highly elegant WW2 tactical game that is the best thing on the market right now. Every play increases my appreciation for this game more and more.

Designer Jim Krohn has created a clearly fresh approach to tactical wargaming with this title. The morale, suppression, movement and hidden units, and combat mechanics all work together to create a smooth flowing yet highly realistic tactical game. Elegant is the word I'd use to describe the experience of playing this game.

This game represents small scale combat done right. The whole proficiency mechanic to test whether a unit is up for tackling the difficult tasks; morale affecting whether a unit will actually perform standard assignments; levels of suppression to pin units down; and a strong yet simple emphasis on the 4Fs of tactical combat, all work to make this a "wow" game. All of these points also helps create fog of war and gently forces players to utilize proper WW2 tactics without a crap-load of chrome. Armour works, artillery works, support weapons teams all have their place in this great system. It's also a fast-playing tactical game with great pace (phases), little downtime, and a game that forces players to always be able to alter plans when things don't go as expected.

There will be some minor re-learning of certain rules for a handful of entrenched grognards who have grown used to other ways of doing things; e.g., lack of fire groups, maximum of two infantry units in a stack, no leader counters, the utter effectiveness and necessity of the 4Fs of tactical combat, the role of morale and suppression in combat, rolling dice to get low numbers and adding modifiers to rolls for morale/proficiency/firing success, etc. But this is a very minor hump ... BoB's mechanics become second nature so fast ... and well worth the effort for this absolutely superb title.

Art? While I'm not sure, as a typographer of more than 20 years, I'd have used those specific fonts on the counters, the counters wind up being very clear, readable and understandable. And while art styles are a highly subjective topic, the map boards simply shine for me, isomorphic and drawn in the style of the best hand-drawn landscape architect drawings. Overall, the game has a very very nice look and feel.

Minor nitpicks? Three only (and they are very minor): Lack of a really well-designed Player Aide showing visuals of terrain types, etc. The one in the game is adequate, but not much more. Maybe second edition? Smoke would've been nice. And a few points of the rulebook could've used clarification. But these are really really minor things when compared to how bloody good this game is.

Outstanding, in fact, and after only a half-dozen plays this has become my go-to tactical, hex-and-chit wargame, even more-so than Combat Commander. I will be pre-ordering the first two expansions (Ghost Panzer and the The Old Breed) directly from Worthington the minute they are announced, regardless of the shipping costs to Canada.
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Sean McCormick
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I'm in total agreement with you. I've been collecting tactical games and until now I've been unable to settle on one. I'd play Combat Commander, then bounce over to Conflict of Heroes, then give Lock n' Load a run, and on and on. (The only game I had definitively dropped from my collection was ASL.) But at this point, I genuinely don't see when I would pull out CC or COH, because BoB simply does it better.

As for the smoke, I believe the designer's argument was that smoke usage has been radically overblown in tactical games, and that in fact it was fairly uncommon on the battlefield. So it would be more of a special scenario rule than a built-in factor across all scenarios.
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Christopher O
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I agree as well. At the moment, while all the other competitors have their own special shining things I like (some more than others), BoB is hitting all the right notes.

I'm restraining myself from writing a review until I've played at least six FtF games and been exposed to the entire ruleset, but it's really hard not to get over-excited about this one, for sure.

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David Janik-Jones
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Kozure wrote:
I agree as well. At the moment, while all the other competitors have their own special shining things I like, BoB is hitting all the right notes.


That's much of what I meant to say. Other systems certainly have great bits, and some have many many great things going on, but this one hits, for me anyway, all the right notes. That's what I meant by the term elegant. Everything just seems to fit together with no effort, sensibly, and with such little overhead, and yet the gameplay and results are fantastic.
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Jens Hoppe
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I am still very much a BoB newbie, but so far I agree. Great feeling of realism, and fast and furious gameplay.

The map art is great, but the maps themselves feel a bit claustrophobic (in terms of hexes per map), and I really dislike the fact that the 10 geomorphic maps are backprinted on five pieces of cardboard. It works for the scenarios given of course, but if one is inclined to DYO or other creative pursuits, it sort of defeats the purpose of having geomorphic maps when you can't mix'n match them freely...

A question for Jim: Do you have any ideas on whether you will continue exclusively with generic, geomorphic maps, or will you consider "historical" maps for some scenarios at some point?

 
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David Janik-Jones
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jens_hoppe wrote:
I am still very much a BoB newbie, but so far I agree. Great feeling of realism, and fast and furious gameplay.


I'm having this more and more confirmed with each successive play.

Not using proper WW2 squad tactics (the 4 Fs ... find, fix, flank, finish) in this game gets you nowhere. You have to cautiously approach and ID enemy units, suppress them with a base of fire, and then send a trailing squad up to finish them off. Rinse and repeat this bounding and you'll at least have the recipe for success, as long as your troops morale remains high (which shows off yet another great mechanism in this game). If you dash a unit out into the open without supressing, expect casualties.

It is real and tense, yet smooth and simple. Even "rolling low and adding modifiers" seems so natural now. A very difficult combination to achieve so successfully, this thing Jim has created.
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Jim Krohn
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
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Quote:
A question for Jim: Do you have any ideas on whether you will continue exclusively with generic, geomorphic maps, or will you consider "historical" maps for some scenarios at some point?


Of course I would consider it!

In order to follow a unit through the war I am forced to do geomorphic. I wanted to do that especially for the first several modules so that I could include the greatest variety of scenarios. I tried to come up with engagements that not only told the story, but were different than the other scenarios in the box.

That's one of the reasons for the backprinted maps. Going backprinted allowed Worthington to include more maps and hence more scenarios.
 
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David Janik-Jones
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Up Front fan, Cats were once worshipped as gods and they haven't forgotten this, Combat Commander series fan, The Raven King (game publisher) ... that's me!, Fields of Fire fan
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Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
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I wanted to add a quick note ... I finally received my unpunched and mint copy yesterday at work courtesy of a trade from

Jared Wilson
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Port Perry
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and raced home to tear it apart, smell and fondle the printed goodness (I'm a print designer, ink fumes make me happy) and get a physical game going (as much as I love the Vassal version, which makes the Decoy/Conceal much better than two stacked chits). Everything was great, as expected, including the die-cutting on the main counters. Awesome!

But ...

The die cutting on the smaller counter sheet on my copy was, sadly, nothing short of abysmal. soblue I mangled a whole bunch of counters before resorting to an Xacto blade to get the rest out. Sigh. I recommend an Xacto for that counter sheet if anyone else runs into the same thing. Note: This is the slightest of blemishes on an extraordinary game.
 
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